Biological imaging without autofluorescence in the second near-infrared region

Abstract

Fluorescence imaging is capable of acquiring anatomical and functional information with high spatial and temporal resolution. This imaging technique has been indispensable in biological research and disease detection/diagnosis. Imaging in the visible and to a lesser degree, in the near-infrared (NIR) regions below 900 nm, suffers from autofluorescence arising from endogenous fluorescent molecules in biological tissues. This autofluorescence interferes with fluorescent molecules of interest, causing a high background and low detection sensitivity. Here, we report that fluorescence imaging in the 1,500–1,700-nm region (termed “NIR-IIb”) under 808-nm excitation results in nearly zero tissue autofluorescence, allowing for background-free imaging of fluorescent species in otherwise notoriously autofluorescent biological tissues, including liver. Imaging of the intrinsic fluorescence of individual fluorophores, such as a single carbon nanotube, can be readily achieved with high sensitivity and without autofluorescence background in mouse liver within the 1,500–1,700-nm wavelength region.

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Correspondence to Hongjie Dai.

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These authors contributed to the work equally.

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Diao, S., Hong, G., Antaris, A.L. et al. Biological imaging without autofluorescence in the second near-infrared region. Nano Res. 8, 3027–3034 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12274-015-0808-9

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Keywords

  • fluorescence imaging
  • second near-infrared
  • nanotechnology
  • autofluorescence